Past-Present-Future of thinkAbout

Had a wonderful and thought-provoking time at this year’s thinkAbout in Cleveland. Sadly, it’s the last event after 20 years. I am proud to say I have attended 10 of the 20 gatherings. It all ended at the place it began, Cleveland, Ohio.

The event was themed around time and the #ExperienceEconomy evolution and hosted by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. Each segment was separated by the past, present and future. Below are the visual translations.

The past was a tour from the beginning through last year’s gathering in New Orleans. Each city had a theme and usually had some tie in with the award winners. I have always imagined what city or place Joe and Jim would choose had I ever won an EXPY. Probably somewhere that embraced visual thinking or illustration. Oh well, its fun to dream.

The next day took us to the present in Jim and Joe’s wacky time machine. They shared the ideas and directions they were pondering for the next evolution of the Experience Economy. From time as currency to the Hinduization of the digital world. 32 million deities now transformed into 32 million apps on our mobile devices. When we wake to the chiming of our mobile devices it is the same as banging the pots to wake the deities. We do not worship them, we use them.

Our world view of the Experience Economy changed as Jim and Joe unveiled the next progression of thinkAbout, thinkAbout4U. A client focused gather mirroring the process of thinkAbout for Experience stagers.

We also discovered the last two award winners. For the EXPY, Carnival cruises took the prize for this year’s stager and for the EMA, Ty Koon received the honors as Experience Manager.  All in all, a great time of discussion, contemplation and investigation.

One thing I took away is that mobile technology is reigniting the lizard brain in all off us. We now react with Fight-Flight or Respond. This makes me wonder if we as humans are becoming the greatest experiment of Pavlov’s digital dog. (bing)

The second thing I took away is that Experiences should be designed to provide happiness, As goes of experience, we pay extra for that experience that makes us happy. No one pays to be made miserable, that’s called customer service.

Until next time, keep your eyes to the future and keep staging experiences that are photo-worthy.

Learning From Alice

In the Experience Economy, understanding the flow is critical in the success of any staged experience. A good example of how this works is through the story of Alice in Wonderland.

Flow of Exp

In order to develop a complete experience for your customer you must address every phase of the experience from the enticement to enter through the extending of the memory.

thinkAbout 2015

A visual recap of thinkAbout 2015 in Atlanta on the idea of “Ing the Thing” Adding action to a thing to begin thinking about the experience.

The “Regiception” – Reception and Registration Experience. (note this year’s joke is in the upper left. In addition of the morning tour to Chick-fil-A’s headquarters and the recipient of this year’s EXPY award.

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Day 1 – Touring

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Day 2 – Thinking about Ing the Thing

thinkAbout 2015 03

A special thanks to our after event excursion to The Prime Family of Business Office and congratulations to Jolene for receiving the EMA award.

Welcome to the Experience Economy

When I hear how some people talk about customer experience (CustExp) or user experience (UX) I get a bit frustrated. Why, because most are speaking about good customer service or a good interface design and not really about an experience that provides an economic value worth paying more for the experience. No what they are really saying is we offer an expected customer service like everyone else. A service that is not measured how well a customer is involved with your offering, rather how efficient you provided it on a consistent basis.

Customer experience has become a replacement buzzword for good customer service without too much sacrifice for the customer or the provider while still keep within budgeted limits. Even some of the books written by so-called customer experience experts are usually no more than satisfaction program authors or worse yet, neglect the point-of-view from the eyes of the customer, rather what they believe to be good for the customer.

Okay, so I am a bit touchy on the subject, so much so that I put the whole book thing to the test by asking myself, of all these authors which ones have had the longest run in print and in person about their unique perspective on experiences. And when I mean unique, I mean that they were the originators and not the adaptors of a given concept. After a few dozen book purchases from the half-price and used book stores I found many were alterations of each other and finding which author came first is like answering the age-old question; chicken or the egg. Only genetics can tell.

There were a few books out there that I didn’t find on the used book shelves, mostly because of limited run or out of print. One however stood out, a book written by two gentlemen with various backgrounds ranging from Logic, Physics and Economics. Both having a strong background in multiple fields of science. Science! not marketing or sales, but science. What’s most impressive is the reason its hard to find their book on the used bookshelves is because it’s still in print and has recently been updated after 10 years. No other author or authors I could find have done this. Maybe you can find a few.

B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore wrote their original book, not white-paper publication, on the subject of the Experience Economy (note: not just the customer experience) in 1999 and then translated in 18 languages that I can find. Then in 2010, it was updated to show changes and the widening growth of the Experience Economy. Through their research and writing identify the economic impact and value and not merely state customer interfaces or service programs.

I was so impressed by their books I began attending their special conferences around their books. Not your typical conferences I grant you, these were “Experiences” all to themselves. the best way to prove your findings and ideas. Good customer experience is expected by customers, staging a true experience delivers on the unexpected and creates memories. Many reports have proven that customers value memories more than goods and those companies boasting good or great customer experiences are all goods or service providers and not truly experience stagers. That is the difference.

To put an exclamation mark on my post, I attended the “Experience Economy Certification” course. A five-day deep dive into the Experience Economy as an economic era and to learn and understand the techniques that companies can use to create experiences worth paying for and not just selling goods or services.

As of this post, I am proud to be of a part of a selected few now honored to be an Experience Economy Experts and not a Customer Experience Specialist.




thinkAbout 2014

Are you one that believes that by creating an experience you provide greater value to customers, members or any type of visitor? You’re not alone. Each year somewhere across America a band of like-minded experiential thinkers gather with Joseph Pine and James Gilmore to put into practice the ideas and techniques shared in their book “The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage.”

Here are some of my Graphicnotes from the event held in Cincinnati in 2014. The group explored Persona development. I’m not speaking about Stereotyping, but raw persona development.

thinkabout 14_01 2k

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Wow! What an incredible time with some of the best experiential thinkers you’ll ever meet. In 2015, the group heads to Atlanta to take on new experiences and apply more of the principles to enrich their thinking and their offerings.

If you’re interested about attending a thinkAbout, click on over to the official site: Strategic Horizons and read more about the events. The event is not open to the public, but I have a few alumni contacts that would be willing to share their membership with you.

See more Graphicnotes from thinkAbout 2013

thinkAbout 2013

Have you ever wanted to attend a conference where everyone is totally engaged in the content, speakers and activities, well if so, than you just missed the greatest conference of experiential development. A large group converged on to Washington D.C. for the annual event called thinkAbout. A conference unlike anything you have ever attended or experienced before. Two days of mind-filling information, exercises and adventures focused on helping business owners transform their businesses from service providers to experiences.

Created by the authors of “The Experience Economy; Work is Theater & Every Business a Stage”, B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore, thinkAbout is that and much more. Below are a few visual translations that are samples from the event. Too much to record in, so little time.

thinkAbout 2013 A webthinkAbout 2013 Cv2 webthinkAbout 2013 B web

Definitely a conference that follows what it preaches. You may have missed this year’s, but I recommend you definitely begin planning for next year’s thinkAbout and experience what a conference could be and should be, an EXPERIENCE!

If you’re interested in attending and have not attended an event before, alumni’s offer to share their chits to attend, because thinkAbout is a closed event and only available to those have the desire to transform their business.

Contact Joe Pine or Jim Gilmore at StrategicHorizons for information on next year’s gathering. Do it today, don’t wait, then read the book so you can jump right in on the activities, conversations and exercises around the concepts shared inside.

When you do call, tell them Kevin Dulle sent you.

P.S. For all attendees of thinkAbout, I have printed copies of high-resolution version available by request. You have my email and phone number so reach out if you like copies. 

Oh Chit!

Okay, I need to warn you, there may be a heavy pun activity around this post. And that ain’t no chit, that’s a fact.

Instead of me trying to find a worthy person to share my good chit with, I decided to follow tradition of ancient nobles and lords and allow all to challenge in the social arena called Twitter where all can see your Chitty attempt. Only the determined may try, and only the worthy may win any chit. I will not randomly pick the user of my extra chit, rather it will be determined by that person who is deemed first to correctly tweet the solution of my secret chit stash.

Here’s how the chit plays out. Below is a graphic that has various types of clues and possibly some misleading information. (you know it will) Decipher the clues and find the correct sequence of the thinkAbout Chit Code.

Rules: Yes, there has to be rules…

1. Send your solution via Twitter in this way @IdeaFreak & @JoePine (Solution sequence) followed by “I want to #SendTheFreak”.

2. You must be the first correct tweet with all the information as described above, with the correct sequence and you are serious about using the Chit Code to attend thinkAbout 2012 in San Francisco. If correct, I will ReTweet a reply with congratulations so that all can see your effort.

3. The prize is only my Chit and NOT the attendance fee to thinkAbout, travel or hotel stay. The prize is only the Chit which gains you access to this special closed function hosted by B. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore. See the webpage for details: thinkAbout.

4. The contest ends at 11:59PM CST on September 12th, 2012. If no one has solved the code and used it by that time, the contest ends and you will just have to wait until next year’s event to try again.

5. Once you have been confirmed that the solution is correct, call the number provided on the thinkAbout information page and make your reservation with the secret Chit Code and we will see you at thinkAbout in San Francisco, California on September 19th – 20th, 2012.

Here’s the puzzle: Bit there were no winners this year.

Send The Freak

Okay, here’s the scoop…

Every year around mid-September, Joe Pine and James Gilmore authors of “The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre and Business a Stage” host an exciting and explosive mental think tank called thinkAbout. It becomes the gathering of some of the most creative and unconventional thinkers from around the world, all focusing in on a single goal; how to create and improve the customer experience and evolve businesses.
Find out more about thinkAbout and the authors with this link. TEE and thinkAbout.

For a few years, prior to the down spin of our economy, I had the wonderful experience in attending, no, experiencing personally this collection of thinkers, creators and doers of the Experience Economy. I learned so much from those attending this event that I am determined to get back with them and dive deep into this experiential think tank. Unfortunately times have limited my flow of funding so….

I am challenging everyone to a social media sponsorship movement on twitter called


It’s very simple, follow my Twitter feed @IdeaFreak with the hash tag #SendTheFreak and support my cause of returning to the flock. Use the twitter feed to RT or send a direct message of support to Joe Pine at @JoePine on twitter and tell him to #SendTheFreak.

My goal is simply attend this years event and maybe travel costs somehow, some way with a single sponsor, donations through the power of social media and crowd funding or social media peer-pressure, but I need your help to be successful. I’m not even sure how to get funding to Joe or into a thinkAbout kitty. Maybe you have an idea I can use.

So what’s in it for you?

Since this is a closed event, I have an extra Chit that allows someone else to attend thinkAbout in San Francisco. Now it does not cover the admission fee, but it does give you an opportunity to learn how the great leaders and businesses have enriched their offering and create dynamic and lasting customer experiences and meet with Joseph Pine and James Gilmore. This extra Chit will be offered to the largest supporter or randomly selected Tweeter for whom finally gets me there, if that is if this person chooses to go, if not I may auction it off to the highest bidder to cover hotel stay, either way it’s up for grabs in support of my cause to…


In addition, for my gratitude, I will create visual graphic recordings of the event as both a tool and memorabilia of the event so you can use or share as you like or not, it’s up to you. See below as a sample. Yes, this always does include Alumni.

As television commercials say “But wait there is more”, once you go, you too become alumni and this allows you to attend future events as well as own you own extra Chit to help others attend. Everyone wins.

So join the Social Media Experience and #SendTheFreak to thinkAbout. Please!